Monday, October 26, 2009

After Miss Julie (The SOB Review)

After Miss Julie (The SOB Review) - American Airlines Theatre, Roundabout Theatre Company, New York, New York

*1/2 (out of ****)

On paper, it must have seemed like a complete no-brainer.

Cast the fetching Sienna Miller in the title role of Patrick Marber's After Miss Julie as a sexy, sultry seductress. It doesn't seem like much of a stretch. After all, Ms. Miller's acting prowess has been largely obscured by her more notorious one in both tempting men and her way right into tabloid fodder.

While it's often said that playwrights should write what they know, Ms. Miller should act what she understands. Instead, as the woman of privilege who seduces her father's valet John (Johnny Lee Miller, who deserves a better Broadway debut than this), she comes up all thumbs, resulting in my own opposable ones appropriately pointing in a decidedly downward direction.

In this clash of power -- class vs. sexual -- you'd think Ms. Miller would be at ease with both. But in a display that is far too shrill, it's really unfathomable that John, who has watched this Julie from an early age, could possibly feel anything for her. He already knows what a screwy coquette she can be, so the sparks between the unrelated Millers seem manufactured.

Making matters worse is that as directed by Mark Brokaw, Marber's adaptation of August Strindberg 19th century work transposes the "action" to the kitchen of a large country estate outside of London on the evening of July 26, 1945. I use the term "action" loosely as virtually all of the action really occurs off stage in rooms unseen.

That includes a reception room where a party is taking place the very night the Labour Party wins its first independent majority over Winston Churchill's Conservatives. It's also where Julie demands John dance with her, twice, much to his embarrassment and chagrin.

Also unseen is a bedroom where Julie and John ultimately consummate their lust for one another, only to be found by his intended fiancée and household cook Christine (Marin Ireland, who acquits herself as well as can be expected).

All this inaction in Allen Moyer's beautifully appointed kitchen -- with hoots and hollering coming from Julie's party dancing display and Christine's tearful discovery coming from the door of the bedroom, not to mention the unseen crowds offering their derision from outside the kitchen window -- makes for one of the most interminable 90 minutes I've yet to spend in a theatre.

Simply put, I couldn't wait until after After Miss Julie.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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At 16 November, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Please note that an advertising message has been removed since it violated rule #4.

At 01 December, 2009, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought this play was very compelling. I thought SM did a great job handling the unexpected psychological turns of Miss Julie. A wonderful debut, in my view. Sure the chemistry was a bit "manufactured" but I just thought the actors carried their parts so well, it still made for an enjoyable enough show. To each his own though!

At 01 December, 2009, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...


Thank you for providing another point of view. I know you're not alone in enjoying the show, and I respect your opinion.



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